This week’s GOFISH blog is brought to you by our David Baker Foundation Board Member, Colin Kay.
Top Tips on virtual job interviews
Lots of organisations now use virtual interviews as a way of recruiting staff. I do some recruitment for a school in China and have been doing 2 or 3 interviews a week on WeChat since the beginning of January. It can be easy to feel relaxed about a virtual interview. After all you’re at home in familiar surroundings. That can be a mistake. You need to prepare for a virtual interview just the same as you would for a face to face one. Here are a few things to think about.
Dress smartly as you would for a face to face interview. Having said that of course only part of you may be visible to the interviewers. If you’re using a phone, then it may just be head and shoulders, as is the case with WeChat and Google Hangouts. If you’re using Skype on a laptop it may be the top half of your body. Make sure you know how much of you is going to be seen and dress that bit accordingly. But if you decide to wear a shirt and tie with shorts make sure you don’t stand up.
It’s also important to look at the picture of yourself on the screen and adjust to make sure it shows what you want it to.
The interview is in your home. Choose the location carefully. You need a good clear and tidy background. You don’t want the interviewer to see untidy piles of paper or washing up. Also make sure the space you use is well lit.
Try and avoid interruptions they can be really irritating to the interviewer. If there are other people in your home, make sure they know when the interview starts so they can keep quiet and out of the way. One interview I did was drowned out by a flatmate practising the saxophone.
Avoid deliveries. I was interviewing someone in India when the doorbell rang, and it was the local water seller. It’s best to schedule them for another time or ask someone else to take them. If you have any pets keep them quiet or out of the way.
You can’t take notes into a face to face interview. You can have notes by you in a virtual one. Don’t make them obvious. The interviewer will quickly pick up on it if you keep looking down to read out answers you’ve already prepared. They want to see you thinking on your feet. If you need to use notes make sure they’re concise and easy to read.
In face to face interviews it’s really important to make eye contact with the interviewer. This can be much harder in virtual interviews, especially if you are using your phone and have 2 or 3 interviewers as small pictures on the screen. Focus on the person that asked the question and try to make eye contact with them. Occasionally look at the other interviewers to check they are still listening.
In face to face interviews you also watch the interviewer for feedback. Is your answer hitting the mark.? Are you saying to much? Are you boring them? This isn’t easy in virtual interviews but it’s really important to do it.
Repeating the Question
Sometimes sound quality can be poor in virtual interviews. This provides a good reason for asking the interviewer to repeat the question. Doing that gives you more time to think of an answer. This is a useful strategy but don’t overuse it.
Let your personality shine though
Sometimes in virtual interviews you can feel alienated by the technology. In interviews it’s really important to let your personality and your enthusiasm shine. This can be difficult in virtual interviews and you have to work harder at it. It is vital because in a competitive world your enthusiasm and personality may be what makes you stand out as much as your technical competence. Smile and use the expression in your voice to get this across. With smiles you can always have a practice in front of the camera when nobody else is looking.
I still prefer face to face interviews but the virtual one is the way things are going. At the moment of course it may be the only option. I and a Vice Principal in China can interview a candidate in Canada without leaving where we are, in an hour, at no cost. It makes sense.